National Library Conference Speaker Advises Librarians On How To Hide LGBTQ Books From Parents

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Reagan Reese Contributor
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A speaker at a national library conference gave school and public librarians instructions on how to hide challenged books, specifically on gender identity, sexual orientation and race, from parents and community members, according to a June 8 conference recording reviewed by the Daily Caller News Foundation.

Valerie Byrd Fort, an instructor at the University of South Carolina gave a seminar at Library 2.0’s “Banned Books and Censorship” conference on how to handle LGBTQ content within the library, according to the conference recording. Fort’s suggestions included extra precautions such as that librarians keep “identity” labels, such as “LGBTQIA+” or “Gays Fiction,” off of books. (RELATED: Blue State Gov Displays Sexually Explicit Books While Signing Bill Prohibiting ‘Book Bans’)

“Don’t label the books with identity based subject headings like ‘LGBTQIA+’ or ‘Gays Fiction,'” Fort said. “Aside from being bad practice, it makes it too easy for parents or community members to find those kinds of books … Don’t make it hard for those necessarily easy for those groups to find, but make it easy for those who want the books. The examples here are to create ways for students to find these books by offering a physical list they can look at while they are in the library.”

Fort also suggested that librarians create a list of LGBTQ books that can be accessed digitally through a username and password for just library patrons or students, according to the recording. The speaker advised librarians to instruct their students to talk to them if they find a book they are uncomfortable with and to tell students that just because “something isn’t for them, that doesn’t mean [they] are going to keep it from everyone else.”

Fort instructed librarians to give students “privacy covers” to help hide what they are reading if they check out a book that contains LGBTQ topics or “something else with potential to offend.”

“We have plenty of examples of book challenges, book banning [and] things being put out on social media by people that aren’t even a part of a certain library community,” Fort said. “So that will help make it very hard for that to happen.”

Parents and community members throughout the nation are revolting against books in libraries that contain sexually explicit content and age inappropriate topics on gender identity and sexual orientation; despite parental backlash.

A Connecticut school district approved a picture book for second graders that discussed transgenderism. A Virginia town board voted to partially restrict funds to a library after the community protested sexually explicit books being made available in the kid’s section.

“For these events, none of the speakers are compensated, and the opening keynote panel host chooses his or her own panel members,” a Library 2.0 spokesperson told the DCNF. “So those particular remarks, or any remarks in that context, do not represent the position of the conference organizers, as we’ve never taken a position on any issue. And while we might personally agree or disagree with specific sentiments that are expressed in forum discussions or conference sessions, we’ve never censored or deleted any content–although we obviously would if it were slanderous or illegal.”

Fort did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.

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